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25 R&I organisations urge the African Union and European Union to take a novel funding approach to science cooperation

01 June 2023

Ahead of the second African Union – European Union Research & Innovation Ministerial Meeting scheduled to take place on 13 June 2023 at Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), where Ministers are expected to adopt the AU-EU Innovation Agenda and hence kick-start its implementation phase, Coimbra Group joins several other stakeholders in urging AU and EU leaders, and their Member States, to leverage the potential of research and innovation (R&I) to accelerate the sustainable development of the two continents.

The ambition to accelerate Africa’s transition to an innovation-led, research-based, and knowledge-based economy requires a novel approach to science cooperation between Africa and Europe, grounded on sustainability, excellence, capacity-building, and scalability. As part of the Global Gateway Africa-Europe Investment Package, we therefore call on the AU and the EU, in partnership with African and European states, to pilot an integrated Africa-EU Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) Programme for the period 2023-2027.

This Africa-EU STI Programme will support the implementation of the AU-EU Innovation Agenda. It will enable the two Unions to build on successes, test an innovative structure to support scientific cooperation between Africa and Europe, and frame the investments made in the context of the Global Gateway. To strengthen the African research ecosystem as a whole, the Africa-EU STI Programme should target the individual and institutional levels, addressing at the same time the need for R&I infrastructures, through support for:

1. Excellent African researchers

2. AU-EU Centres of Excellence

3. R&I infrastructures

Our universities and research organisations are ready to assume their responsibilities in support of the Global Gateway and the African Union’s Agenda 2063. But this bold, comprehensive, long-term vision requires a new funding instrument that is equally bold, long-term, sustainable, and integrated. This must be the ambition of the Africa-EU STI Programme.
The Africa-EU STI Programme should draw on the EU’s Global Europe/NDICI instrument and the AU’s Education, Science, Technology, and Innovation Department resources. To be up to its ambitions, it also needs to leverage national and private funding in Europe and Africa, including through a Team Europe approach.

Coimbra Group, and its member universities, have a long tradition of cooperation with the African continent in education and in research. “Europe-Africa Cooperation” is the central topic of this year’s Coimbra Group Annual Conference taking place at the University of Cologne from 31 May to 2 June 2023 where the 40 CG Universities are reflecting on and exchanging their experiences in this regard.

Read the full Call for Action in English and its non-binding French translation.